“All that is gold does not glitter….”
This cliché phrase gets bandied about all the time. Everyone’s familiar with it. I’ve heard many a lesson, rabbit trail, and sermon on how it’s impossible to be so heavenly minded that you’re no earthly good. I fully agree with my pastors, that it is impossible. But, it’s taken me some time to understand what this means from a worldly perspective, why people use it, and how I’ve listened to its lies over the years.
Last year, my husband and I sold our relatively successful small business. My husband ultimately left this choice to me. I was the face of the business. I ran the front end of our boutiques, while he did all the bookwork, systematization, and big picture things. In many ways, he loved our business far more than I did, but when he asked me if I wanted to sell it, I hesitated. Why? Significance. I had wrapped most of my personal identity around being a business owner. For ten years, I basked in the praise lavished on me by my community for my wisdom, management skills, and fashion knowledge. I had successful older women who wanted to work for me. I had young women who wanted to learn from me. I had customers who wanted to talk to me every day. On big sale days, I had lines outside my boutique doors. I was, in a small way, significant. When I thought through selling our business, I feared losing that significance. Who would I be without it? I would be Mrs. Price Jones. That’s who I would be.
Oh, the subtle lies of the world, how they twist and turn and steal inside us. I didn’t find it very significant to be Mrs. Price Jones. I didn’t find being a housewife and homemaker very exciting….and I feared the remarks I would face when I told my customers that I wanted to sell our business to b
e a housewife and have more time to serve our church. They would say I was being so heavenly minded I was no earthly good.
There is another side to this story because a woman’s heart and mind is never simple, but always complex. I always wanted to be a homemaker, since I was a little, little girl. I was not happy owning the stores. I felt like they took my best from me and left me with little to give my church, husband, and family. My husband and I had come to the realization that the sparkle of worldly success was nothing more than that – a cheap sparkle in a $5 ring. We wanted to use our time and talent to lay up our treasures in heaven. We wanted to stop saying no to our church family and our physical family and start saying yes. We wanted to serve them. We wanted to be so heavenly minded we were no earthly good.
Both of these things were going on in my heart at the same time. Keeping the store meant a small amount of worldly significance. Selling the story meant a new life of service to our church that nobody but our church would appreciate. It meant looking other women in the face and telling them I was a stay at home wife. Do you know how despised that profession is in our society? Women look at you like you must sit around all day doing nothing but getting fat and being lazy. It’s so hard not to qualify the choice we’ve made with a list of all my projects, as if to justify myself.
I think this is where the cliché of being so heavenly minded you’re no earthly good initiated. Christians chose to give up what the world valued to do things the world didn’t value. For me, it was when I stopped wanting to be an elf, and saw the beauty and magic of being a hobbit, of living a quiet life. Age does this to you. You don’t want to live in this earth forever. I had to learn, and keep learning to trust my significance to my heavenly Father, not to the works of my hands.
This is an ongoing process. The Lord has blessed my husband and my efforts to serve our church and our families. He has shown us the tarnished, worthless sparkle of a world in a pre-ash state. But we are such sight bound beings, and sometimes that sparkle looks so promising. So the Lord keeps showing the lie to us. Recently, He has done this for me by helping me see that I could use my writing ability to edify and help other believers. I had to give up another small bit of worldly significance. Not something wrong, but something good for something better, and something only faith can see as significant, not sight.
This has led me to start becoming someone I previously disliked. Even as a Christian, I would find other Christians who I felt were so heavenly, so holy, they were….well just boring, kinda strange, and so insignificant. They read all this holy stuff and never Steven King. They listened to all this Christian music and never Florence and the Machine, or Metallica. They weren’t up on the latest geeky TV show, or any TV show, geeky or not. I mean, what was wrong with these people. They were so heavenly minded they were no earthly fun.
And now here I am. I would rather be at church, my church, with my church family than anywhere else in the world. I enjoy old hymns more than I enjoy pop songs. I have a growing stack of religious books on my desk that I’m actually reading, not just thinking I should probably read them. I have bible verses on my walls instead of inspirational quotes….though there is still a fair amount of Tolkien mixed in. Why? Why this change? Why this pulling away from the world? Because the older I get, the more aware I am of my own sin and God’s grace. I’m not a good person. I’m a wretched sinner. I need God. Not as an opium, I need Him as a savior. I need Him as my savior. I am lost without Him. I have no hope without Him. The older I get, the more He gently leads me away from this life and towards the one to come. I am becoming, to the world, of no value. I live a quiet life, serve my church, and Lord Willing, write moralistic stories for children. My life is not changing the world. My talents aren’t being used to eradicate poverty, stop war, or starvation. My talents are set at the scarred feet of Christ and He is using them in a small Texas church. And my significance? I find it all in Him and not in me. Someday better than others, but He is longsuffering. He has sealed me and will not give me up even as He helps me give up this world.